Analogies designed to enhance understanding of earthquake science: Their identification, characterization, and use in instructional settings

2009 2009

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Abstract (summary)

Whitehead (1920) said that one should seek simplicity but also mistrust it. Analogies, similes, and metaphors are a common and apparently simple fixture of instruction and they function as important “tools of thought” (Lakeoff & Johnson, 2003) for communicating ideas. Oppenheimer (1956) stated that analogy was an indispensable and inevitable tool for scientific progress. Use of analogy allows individuals to make connections between what is known and what is not known (Harrison & Treagust, 1994). Glynn, Yeany, & Britton (1991) refer to analogies as double-edged swords because although they can be beneficial, they can also be detrimental if they lead to alternative conceptions in the target audience.

Earthquake science analogies are used abundantly in print and visual media but there lacks a systematic method to identify, characterize, and analyze these analogies. This study identified and characterized earthquake analogies and whether or not there is a difference in the analogies used in books (including textbooks) and in media reports. Using grounded theory (Babbie, 2004) and content analysis techniques this study developed a tool to identify earthquake analogies directly from text and video. A set of analogy characteristics identified in the literature and several others emerging from the direct study of the analogies themselves, provide the foundation for analysis and the development of an analogy catalog and a codebook.

The number and range of analogies found in the sources examined are far richer than expected. Several of the sources contained compound analogies where multiple analogies are found in the same sentence.

The blurriness of the boundaries between analogies, similes, and metaphors described by Dagher (1995) was directly observed in the analogies identified and cataloged for this study. Based on the findings, there is potential and a great need for developing a systematic approach to the analysis and cataloging of analogies identified from native real world resources. Print and television media outlets use analogy widely in the process of reporting about earthquake science. The only difference between the earthquake analogies used by news media and those in textbooks is the greater use of metaphor by the news media.

Indexing (details)

Science education;
Curriculum development
0714: Science education
0727: Curriculum development
Identifier / keyword
Education; Analogy; Earthquake; Earthquake science; Science
Analogies designed to enhance understanding of earthquake science: Their identification, characterization, and use in instructional settings
de Groot, Robert M.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 70/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
McComas, William F.
Committee member
Henyey, Thomas; Marsh, David
University of Southern California
Education(Curriculum and Instruction)
University location
United States -- California
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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